The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

loads of goods to the New Mexican city in 1821, expanding his operation to wag-
ons the next year. It is of interest to Texas readers in particular that Becknell,
"Father of the Santa Fe Trail," brought a Missouri group to Texas in 1835 in
time for the Texas Revolution, and remained at Becknell Prairie in Red River
County until his death in 1856.
Marc Simmons has the reader, not just the so-called scholar, in mind with The
Old Trazl to Santa Fe. Simmons, former president of the Santa Fe Trail Associa-
tion, first gives a short history of the trail, quoting not only from Josiah Gregg's
classic Commerce of the Prairies (1844), but from trail memoirs written by lesser-
known heroines, including such valiant females as Susan Shelby Magoffin, wife
of an early American trader who wrote of her adventures in New Mexico (and,
briefly, Texas) in Down the Santa Fe Trail (1926), Terecina Bent, murdered New
Mexico Gov. Charles Bent's daughter who, when she was twelve, a Cheyenne war
chief demanded (but failed) to buy as a wife, and Marian Sloan Russell, who told
Kit Carson, "[The Trail] is rough I know, and maybe dangerous ... but I love it."
Marc Simmons's small book is not so much a formal history of the Santa Fe
Trail as a sketchbook of places and events along the trail and of people who con-
tributed to the legends and histories of the trail. My personal favorite is an essay
on poetry the Santa Fe Trail has inspired (page 104). The pull of the past never
lets up. Even as late as 1982 "tramp poet" Welborn Hope published his 176-page
Prairie Ocean: An Epic Poem of the Santa Fe Trail
The major complaint I have is that while the illustrations are enlightening and
the book has a sufficient bibliography, it has no index.
Salado A. C. GREENE
Comanche Political History: An Ethnohistorical Perspective, z 706-1 875. By Thomas W.
Kavanagh. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996. Pp. xvi+586. List of
maps and illustrations, list of tables, preface, pronunciation, introduction,
notes, references, index. ISBN 0-8032-2730-2. $45, cloth.)
Thomas Kavanagh's Comanche Political History is a comprehensive study of po-
litical and social interactions between the various Comanche tribes and Eu-
roamericans from the earliest recorded contact to the reservation period. He
concludes that Comanche tribes "like all political organizations, resulted from
the temporal intersections of historical, sociocultural, and environmental
processes" (p. 491).
Kavanagh, a curator at the William Hammond Mathers Museum at Indiana
University, clearly demonstrates that the Comanches did not live in static "tribal"
organization, but banded together in dynamic and evolving political/social com-
mittees. The majority of the book addresses the historical narrative of Euro-Co-
manche contact. Drawing on archival sources in the United States, Spain, and
Mexico, he critically assesses the recorded accounts, compares them against one
another, and places them into historical perspective. He questions the recorded
depredations and demonstrates that raiding was often encouraged by conflicts
among Euroamericans. Texans and Mexicans encouraged raids against one



Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed November 26, 2015.